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02 November 2009

Password and PIN problems

An article on the relative security and insecurity of websites and banks

Why is it that websites deem a 6 character all lower case password to be "very weak" when there's 306million+ possibilities. Yet a 4 digit PIN (9999 possibilities) is secure enough for banks?

The website one is almost 31,000 times more secure yet is deemed "weak". Surely a rule for websites that if the incorrect password is used a certain number of times the account is locked would be sufficient to make the weak password 31,000 times stronger than the bank's security.

We have to be practical about this. In reality, any rules around requiring a password to have upper and lower case letter and special characters such as $,% etc simply make it much more likely people will write the passwords down. Just because this makes it the person's problem rather than the website's is no excuse - the overall security of the account is the issue, including the likelyhood that the account will be broken into because the password was so complicated it, together with the dozons of other passwords from other sites, all had to be written down somewhere because it was too much to remember.

Can we please have simpler password rules for websites and some way of having one strong security mechanism which ties them all together?


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